Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wasn't it good, working for MORA WOOD.
Ten years ago, on a wet and slushy Christmas Eve, I was working for Mora Wood, here in Newmarket ON, loading furniture. A grunt and his truck making deliveries to Toronto.
I was working for Mora Wood Products, my rescuer at a time when all my publishing projects had gone kaput. I was supposed to be a writer, but hadn't sold anything in years, save for the underground newspaper that I was trying to keep afloat.
On the front page, of course, was my paean to Paul Naismith, my benefactor, Paul Naismith, proprietor of Mora Wood Products, 28 Allura Boulevard, Aurora, Ontario L4G 3S5 (Tel:: 905 726-3584. Yes. I had to get all that in. I am still plugging my former patron!
Paul had saved my sorry ass as a writer and small publisher. For some reason, our personalities just clicked when I first met him, while spreading my "Main Street Whizbang" newpaper around to all the industries. "You are a busted writer. I am a going-broke cabinet maker. We are artists, I suppose, in an applied way. Maybe we should hang around together."
And so I worked for Paul as delivery man while Paul and his crew would craft the finest handmade cabinetry. Wonderful hutches, chairs, armoirs, solid oak tables (Which I had a hell of a time carting, as they weighted some 200 pounds), Amish "sleigh beds", which somehow made you think of Santa Claus while you flew in your dreams. And exquisite cabinets.
My father too had been a cabinet maker, but I was the one who got the education, which, I must confess, made me something of a no-goodnick for work, and instead, becoming a young man on the make, retired the first time at 32 because my studies of Cicero (not the pig) and rhetoric at Trinity College had made me an expert at bullshit and puffery-- and even got me some of the girls, one of whom was an heiress. Get an education, my father would quip. End up marrying a rich woman. Lose yourself. Maybe even your identity. Well, what the hell. All talent and weak hands.
My writing and my wife had retired me at 32, a published novelst and media writer.
But then came 52, and whoops! The groupis came too often, I weakened, what the hell, there was enough of me to go around, what's an extra-marital roll in the hay here and there?
Friggin' fool lost everything, wife, kids, house and even jockstrap. And nobody was buying my scrips any more.
Time for a new script. At about the time I met Paul Naismith.
Paul himself was suffering from a bad karma with creditors and suppliers, he nevertheless offered to be my "karma mechanic", and at this he was marvellous.
Three months into working for Mora Wood, I suddenly sold a personal essay to Toronto's national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. My own newspaper perked up with advertising and I suddenly found myself back on my feet...But propped up all the while by Paul, his work and advertising revenue for my paper.
But while I started to rise, Paul started to sink. Saint Christopher mired down. Forty thousand dollars needed for his suppliers and he didn't have it. My own game was simple. Write good, work good. His was more complicated.
To make wood, you gotta buy wood and oadk pine were becoming becoming damn expensive. And then there was a staff of about 12, me among them.
I had the excuse some writers offer when they are forced to work with their hands and brains at something practical. "I did it for therapy...I was becoming too itellectual, too fucked up, too abstract I had to get my feet back on the ground."
Well, did I ever get feet on ground. I began to sell essays to big publishers, Paul somehow acting as my agent--Paul could do anything--and his shop fax machine was busy processing my literary endeavours. Seemed like Mora Wood had become Mora Publishing.
But there was pressing concern for Mora Wood. Not enough work coming in to pay all the suppliers. And a staff to pay.
Unfortunately, Paul went out of business at about the same time I rose again in journalism and fiction.
But then I too began to falter without Mora's financial backing for my projects. And with my groupes, I suddenly had trouble with a different kind of "wood" problem. Colossal literary fossil with a docile tassle. "You call that a dick?"
No more pretenses. You couldn't get by on literary reputation now. The frost was on the pumpkin and you couldn't even go dickie dunkin". Sixty-six Almost an apocalypse. And passsions spent.
So much for the randy poet.
Broke, seemingly castrated and alone, I sought Paul out to see if I could borrow some money. I was not only impotent but broke again as well.
This was the miracle with Paul: Even though I had not worked for him in years, he nevertheless acted as if I still worked for him, and every Friday I would come to the new shop he was working in "fer to collect my pay." Writers are parasitic! But Paul, though himself broke would always give me a stipend to keep on going with the literary projects, though they by now --rarely worked out.
I put in my last ad for MORA WOOD before my paper sank.
Seems that Paul and I sank at about the same time.
Years passed. I knew I was done for and was convinced Paul was bankrupt as well, but I passed a woodshop in Aurora Ontario and, well, lookee here: MORA WOOD PRODUCTS. "Expertly crafting the finest handmade cabinetry. See Paul Naismith."
Paul Naismith has resurfaced.
Just at about this time I myself rose a bit with an offer from a publisher.
Something Paul told me when I worked for him:
Never give up. Never give in.
And, hey the other day I got an erection!